31 Oct 2014


It's Halloween the traditional holiday where pretty girls dress like tarts and small children terrorize the neighborhood in ghoulish sugar thirsty packs.  

While many people in my home country might still be confused about Halloween, I embrace it.  I will jump at the chance to dress in costume and eat lollies.  When I was single my brother, and my friend Doug, would dress up and celebrate "International Speak like a Pirate Day!". Sadly I could not convince my colleagues at my serious government job to do the same. 

Being the sort of chap that I am I embrace the sheer fun of it, and part of the fun for me is to have a few friends over and watch some horror movies.  Here is a list  of some of my favorites in no particular order. 

 1: An American Werewolf in London 

Arguably the best Werewolf movie ever made, this film will always have a soft spot in my heart due to the fact I stayed up to watch it one night with my brother who had confused it with  Teen Wolf.  Needless to say this was not the laugh riot I thought it was. However its special effects still stand the test of time, and the story balances humor, frights and gore in an entertaining way. 

2: Alien

I seriously remember watching this from behind the couch. The original film embraced the idea that less is more. A fantastic cast and a terrifying monster that spawned one great sequel, two terrible sequels and a thousand poor copies. Alien for me is a fantastic horror film. Sadly its greatness is also its downfall as it has been copied and referenced so much that it has lost much of its impact for new generation of audiences.  But still a classic.

3: Halloween

In my opinion John Carpenters Halloween started that whole slasher trend that came about in the 80's. And while I am not a fan of those films in general, the story, and cinematography of Halloween is truly eerie. The mythology of Michael Myers embodies the urban legends such as the hook man, and the disturbing imagery of Hitchcock's Psycho. The end is still one of the best endings of a horror film ever.

4: Fright Night

I probably should have chosen a classic Hammer Horror such as The Horror of Dracula, but Fright Night embodies all the classic cinematic Vampire mythology without taking itself too seriously. Roddy McDowall is awesome as a second rate Peter Cushing. The 80's spawned a revival of horror, and this is my favorite vampire film of that generation.

5: Let the right One In

 In the recent renaissance of Swedish cinema Let the Right One in was a blessed relief to those of us that enjoy Vampire stories.  Let the Right One is is both endearing and disturbing. It is dark and compassionate and weirdly beautiful.

6: Night of the Living Dead

George A. Romero's first and classic Zombie horror. It set the bench mark for modern Zombie films from Sean of the Dead, to Zombieland. Psychologically still compelling.

7: Evil Dead II

Sam Raimi's and Bruce Campbell's comedy sequel to Evil Dead. Sure in a list like this I should be referencing The Omen or the Exorcist, but I love Evil Dead II. Crazy and creepy  it is still great 27 years later.

8: In the Mouth of Madness

John Carpenter's homage to H.P. Lovecraft. In my opinion closer to any of Lovecraft's works than any other film made, yes even Re-animator. Sam Neil, Jurgen Prochnow and the cameo with Charlton Heston is great.  Not overly popular but a firm favorite for fans of Lovecraft.

9: The Thing

This is the last of the three John Carpenter films on my list. This was not intentional but it turns out I am a massive fan. I love this film, and I love people watching it for the first time. Infinitely better than the remake, this is classic modern horror at it's best.

10: Braindead

Peter Jackson at his best. If you haven't seen it you will feel like you need an apron for the amount of gore that will virtually wash over you. But in saying that it is accompanied with a sense of humor and style which has turned this little kiwi movie into a horror classic. The fact that a character from the  Norwegian horror Dead Snow is wearing a Brain dead t-shirt is marvelous.

These are not necessarily the best horror films ever, I have not included Psycho or Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the Exorcist, but these after much pressure to decide were my top ten.

Love to hear your favorites as well. Happy Halloween everybody.

27 Oct 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Hot on the success of 2013's Oblivion,  Tom Cruise returns with a new Sci Fi action feature  Edge of Tomorrow.  Based on the Japanese novel All you need is Kill (which I am sure sounds better in Japanese) Cruise joins Emily Blunt in saving the world.


Europe is being invaded by a seemingly unstoppable swarm of alien life. The world unites as the entire continent is swiftly over run.  Finally, Earth wins a victory over the invaders, and with renewed hope Earth launches a massive invasion into France from the United Kingdom. Cage (Tom Cruise) is a recruitment marketing specialist who finds himself reassigned to the front line. Unsurprisingly he dies, but then awakes to discover he has developed the strange ability to relive the same day over and over.

Ensue repetition.

The movie looks great. The action scenes on the beach are reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, in their scale and feel. Emily Blunt is surprisingly good as the battle hardened soldier. She is resolute, but still conveys the intelligence and empathy she is known for. Also a hot girl smashing Aliens with a giant sword is pretty freaking awesome. Still, besides showing her athletic capability, the film didn't showcase her abilities too much.

But for me this cross between  Starship Troopers  and Groundhog Day missed the mark. Yes they had those Groundhog Day humorous moments, and as I said the action was good but the story just seemed to lack something tangible. Not bad, but the story lacked that little tweak to make it special. The ending was a bit trite too.  At least the director and writers managed to restrain the requirement for a blatant Hollywood love story thankfully.

If you like action films, especially Scifi movies then you will probably like this. I don't think you will love it though. Better than Battle Los Angeles,  but apart from Emily Blunt killing Aliens with a giant sword, nothing special.

5 Monkeys

20 Oct 2014

They came together

I remember fondly the great satire movies of the 70's and 80's, films like; Airplane, Naked gun, Hot Shots, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. With their blend of parody, cheeky innuendo and slapstick, these wonderfully funny movies that really made you laugh out loud.  

The late great Martin Alan "Marty" Feldman (8 July 1934[1] – 2 December 1982)
Then inexplicably the all the new satire movies  became seriously dumb.

I think the moment it happened was Scary movie.  I distinctly remember seeing the preview and thinking aw yeah I’ll see that. And then when I did it became a long drawn out conclusion that all of the funny bits had been in the preview.  There are of course some exceptions, but generally the new movies that parody other movies just have not been all that funny. 

Then last date night my lovely wife picked  They Came Together with Paul Rudd and Amy Poelher.  Not only did it parody romantic comedies such as Sleepless in Seattle, and You've got mail, but it did so humorously.

The story was pretty cliched, but of course that is the point. They Came Together is a pretty dumb movie, but it was so dumb you find yourself laughing out loud inexplicably.  

Rudd re-hashes a role we are familiar seeing him in the past, and Poelher channels Meg Ryan and Reese Witherspoon. But no matter how hard she tries, Poelher is still less annoying than either of them. 

They Came Together is the sort of film that you will either  love or hate. We had very low expectations, and found ourselves really enjoying it. 

I don’t think this needs a synopsis or a great deal of inspection or examination if you want a funny film for a date night then try this.


7 Oct 2014

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a b@stard.

While he may have started off as the oldest alien stuck in the body of a teenage boy, he has developed into a talented writer, actor and director. I mean what can’t he do? I mean what if someone gave him a dare to write a film about a Jersey Shore porn addict with relationship and cleanliness issues, starring Tony Danza?  It’s not like he could pull that off right?

What a b@stard!

Synopsis for Don Jon:

Jon (Gordon-Levitt) loves his family, his best friends, his car, keeping his apartment clean, hot girls and porn. Jon has absolutely no issues finding attractive women to have meaningless relationships with, however there is something about porn that he loses himself in, in a way that he can’t in a really physical relationship.  But then he meets  Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who refuses to go home with him.  Jon realizes that he needs more than one night stands. Jon and Barbara embark on his first relationship, with Barbara having some pretty firm ideas about romance, and relationships and they do not involve porn.

So let the hi-jinks begin.

The first thing that makes you empathise with Jon, despite his predilection for porn, is his simple sincerity, with his friends, family, his faith, and ensuring that his apartment is clean.  His addiction to porn seems an anathema, especially given his ready access to beautiful women.  However it is through actually have a relationship with Barbara and an odd friendship with fellow student Esther that he starts developing more as a human being. Jon is static and and without realizing it is in a rut, and that is why he cannot connect with women on a physical level.

Oh don't worry about the porn element, it isn't a gratuitous element, but it is a focus of the characters dysfunction. In fact those who loathe porn might feel a little bit justified by the end of the film.

7 stars.